I TAKE no pleasure in the fact that my prediction of a few weeks ago seems to have come true: Luis Suarez’s theatrical antics have almost certainly cost Liverpool dear. I refer to Suarez’s reaction to being fouled by Samuel Eto’o in the penalty box, during Chelsea’s 2-1 win on Sunday. There is no doubt in my mind that Liverpool should have had a penalty, but, as Suarez went into orbit after being taken out by Eto’o, I’m sure referee Howard Webb was thinking: ‘I’m not falling for that!’ Suarez did something similar, a bit of a dying swan act, when clattered by Manchester City’s Joleon Lescott in the 2-1 defeat at The Etihad last week. That was on the edge of the box, but it is arguable that a penalty might well have been awarded had it not been for Suarez’s melodramatic reaction. After yesterday’s match at Stamford Bridge, Blues boss Jose Mourinho said Suarez “did an acrobatic swimming pool jump.” And Mourinho insisted this type of thing has no place in English football (though I must say Chelsea’s Eden Hazard did a pretty good similar impersonation at one point).
The fact is, Suarez is such a good player – as good as anyone in the world right now – that there’s just no need for this sort of thing. And, though I hate to say to Liverpool fans that I told you so, my forecast of a referee-rebound blow in a big, big match has come to pass. I am not condoning the fact that World Cup final official Webb got it wrong, just highlighting a situation where a player’s reputation for diving can precede him – and be so costly to his team when an important, split-second decision is made. This isn’t sour grapes on my part, you Reds fans, it is merely an underscoring of my warning of the potential repercussions of Suarez’s blatant attempts to influence the referee. It must be said, for a player blessed with such sublime balance, he does seem to lose it easily when someone gets near him, particularly in the penalty area. Manager Brendan Rodgers has been singing the praises of his reformed striker, following the biting incident late last season, then Suarez’s undignified bid to engineer a move from Anfield in the summer, and Liverpool have been so delighted with the Uruguayan’s form that they have signed him to a record, four-year contract extension. All I’ll say is, if Brendan can convince his star man to stamp out the play-acting, then Liverpool and their fans really will have the 100 per cent real deal to savour through to 2018.